When you think of the words "Disney parks," you think of rides, Dole Whip, castles, and meet-and-greets with Mickey Mouse himself. Thoughts of monsters, murder, and portals to horrifying dimensions might not exactly match the Disney image, but they are themes Disney has dabbled in before, as shocking as that might be.
For decades, Disney has had a kid-friendly, magical and inviting image that has continued to be consistent since the days of Walt himself. You wouldn't think the House of Mouse actually had some pretty intense and scary rides in their repertoire, but they certainly did! Here are ten of the scariest attractions Disney has ever built.
10 Snow White's Scary Adventures
Yes, you read that title correctly. At one time, Disney actually had a spooky dark ride inspired by their first animated classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. You might laugh at the notion, but those who were exposed to the original versions of the attraction weren't exactly smiling.
Snow White's Scary Adventures took guests on a ride through the Evil Queen's castle and dungeons, a haunted forest with red-eyed tree monsters, and a darkened diamond mine. The ride not only featured gruesome imagery in the dungeons but jump scares from the wicked witch. The refurbished versions did little to tone down the scare factor, aside from the happy ending. Talk about a grim fairytale.
Dinosaur is one of Animal Kingdom's coolest rides, but we have to admit that Carnotaurus is one nasty piece of work. What starts out as an educational experience introduced by Bill Nye the Science Guy soon turns into a head-on encounter with these terrible lizards.
Guests are sent in a Time Rover vehicle over prehistoric terrain, encountering various dinos in a dark jungle, including Triceratops, Velociraptors, and the sought-after iguanodon, but we also come face to face with an angry carnotaurus not once, but three times. This ride probably has the most jumpscares out of any Disney attractions, even us adults have been known to jump at all those teeth.
8 Ghost Galaxy
Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy is a seasonal overlay for the Disneyland version of the ride, and though it is visually stunning, it's also a tad on the freaky side. In this spooky overlay, Space Mountain has become consumed by a malevolent Nebula Ghost, an eerie skeletal creature formed out of nebula clouds who corrupts the space station and chases the guests through a cosmic storm.
The premise takes Space Mountain from a thrilling race through the stars to a heart-pounding escape from an evil entity. Though visually interesting and a deviation from the standard space adventure, we'd be lying if we said the Nebula Ghost didn't give us the chills.
7 Guardians of the Galaxy: Monsters After Dark
We don't know how you feel about the Guardians taking over the Tower of Terror at Disney World, but we love it! We also love the Halloween layover brought to us courtesy of Tivan the Collector's menagerie of monsters Rocket lets loose. Though no portals to the Twilight Zone exist here, we still have some pretty scary encounters.
With monsters, mechanical malfunctions, and a heavy metal-inspired soundtrack, it's a heart-racing thrill ride led by our favorite raccoon and talking twig. More adrenaline rush than total scare, but we still have to put it on our list for its use of fire-breathing monsters, but at least Groot takes a little of the edge off.
6 Expedition Everest
Leave it to Disney to be able to tell a thrilling story via rollercoaster. Expedition Everest reinvents the myth of the Yeti by taking guests through the village of Serka Zong, on the search for a lost Himalayan expedition. Guests are ushered through a Yeti museum, then board a train to take them to the Forbidden Mountain, where they have a face-to-face encounter with the Yeti himself!
This chilling attraction is definitely one of Disney's most intense rides. If the backward drops and plummets don't scare you enough, the 25-foot-tall Yeti certainly will. Easily one of the scariest creatures Disney has ever made.
5 Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror
Essentially Disney Hollywood Studios's answer to the Haunted Mansion, guests are welcomed to take a trip into the Twilight Zone as they enter the remains of a decrepit Hotel. Haunted by the spirits of residents who mysteriously disappeared, the Tower of Terror is one of the eeriest creations made by Disney.
The drop from the top of the tower is frightening enough, but throw in a backstory worthy of a Rod Serling narration and it just gets better from there. The atmosphere, ambiance, and visual storytelling are more than enough to give us the shakes, but it's still one of Hollywood Studios' most popular attractions.
4 Phantom Manor
If you thought we were going to include the Haunted Mansion on this trip, you've not seen Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris. Where the Haunted Mansion is equal parts silly and spooky, Phantom Manor has several gothic horror elements that push it over the edge. It's definitely not your mom and dad's Haunted Mansion.
We're not in the Magic Kingdom now, that's for sure. Restless spirits, a broken-hearted-bride, and a murderous phantom all come together to tell a tragic tale of romance, greed, and murder most foul. From the Phantom hanging a poor soul by the neck to the town full of zombie citizens, rider beware, you're in for a scare.
3 ExtraTERRORestrial: Alien Encounter
Now here's a ride we've talked about before, and with good reason too. Alien Encounter has a reputation for being the scariest thing Disney ever devised. It was even so intense and frightening, it's said that Michael Eisner shut it down after too many complaints from guests. We've not even mentioned the monster yet.
Inside, guests were treated to an accidental encounter with a horrifying predatory alien that would give the Queen Xenomorph palpitations. This creature not only hacks up a custodian and spits venom on the guests, but nearly escapes into the audience. We definitely prefer the Stitch version than this gallon drum of nightmare fuel.
2 Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour
In the U.S., Cinderella's Castle plays hosts to Cinderella's Royal Table, where guests can dine with princesses and eat like kings. Not the case for Tokyo Disney. What starts out as an exploration through the castle becomes a terrifying gauntlet through the dungeons to escape the Disney villains.
Guests escape the clutches of the Evil Queen, Maleficent, and Chernabog before coming face to face with an animatronic of the horrifying Horned King. This is the scariest character Disney has ever built, as he attempts to sacrifice the guests to join his army of the dead. The walkthrough concludes with a happy ending, but it'll take more than a hug from Mickey to shake off this attraction's scares.
1 The Nightmare Experiment
When you think of a haunted maze, you think of Horror Nights at Universal. Believe it or not, Disney has their own versions in Hong Kong Disneyland. These mazes have been everything from a haunted hotel to a mysterious jungle, but Disney cranked the scare-factor up to twelve when they introduced the Nightmare Experiment.
In this maze, guests were pushed through a portal into the Dreamscape, where nightmares took the form of famous Disney villains. Scenes involving Sid's mutant toys, a tortured Pinocchio, and a demented Mad Hatter were just a few of the horror-fueled scenes fans could experience. An interesting adaptation, but one we can't say would do well in the States. Scary would be putting it lightly.